It’s no secret that I am a HUGE Outlander fan. You might not think it since I’ve only read the first book a handful of times (a full hand at that!) and I’m just on the fourth book in the so-far 8-book series. There are people out there, I’m sure, who have read all of the books in the series numerous times! Hats off to them because at 1,000+ pages for each book, that takes dedication.
I was absolutely bouncing off the walls when I watched the first episode of the TV series made for the books and I have to say that it really renewed my love for the series. While I wanted to dive first into yet another reread of Outlander, I decided to continue on with the series and am now really enjoying Drums of Autumn — so much, in fact, that I bought paperbacks for books 6 & 7 at the bookstore yesterday! I fully intend to get to the end of the series as soon as I can!
Since I feel like I’ve been immersing myself in all things Outlander in the past week, I thought it’d be fun to have an Outlander Week on the blog! Because of my lack of scheduling, it’s brand new to me to not have the whole week scheduled, though I did write up an outline in Evernote:
Monday: What is Outlander?
Tuesday: New vs. Old Thoughts on the Books
Wednesday: The TV Show!
Friday: My Outlander Wishlist
I feel like there are a lot of people out there who are saying, “What IS this Outlander show/book all about? Why is it so great??” It’s easy to come back with a retort like, “Because it is!” but I thought I’d do a little more research than that.
Who is Diana Gabaldon, why did she write this book, and how does Doctor Who come into it?
With a book as good as this one — and I’m not the only one who thinks so; there are legions of fans all over the world for this series! — you might think that Gabaldon was an accomplished writer, diving into a new series for her already-devoted fans. But really, Gabaldon was a university assistant and wanted to get practice writing a novel and figured that historical fiction would be best. That way she could research and write and truly try her hand at this whole writing gig.
She had been watching Doctor Who (like every awesome person out there does), an old episode where the doctor’s companion was a character named Jamie, a Scot from around the time of 1745. He provided the inspiration for the character Jamie Fraser, as well as the 18th century setting of the story.
Gabaldon decided to have “an Englishwoman to play-off all these kilted Scotsmen,” but her female character “took over the story and began telling it herself, making smart-ass modern remarks about everything.” To explain the character’s modern behavior and attitudes, Gabaldon chose to use time travel.
Writing the novel at a time “when the World Wide Web didn’t exist,” she did her research “the old-fashioned way, by herself, through books.” Later Gabaldon posted a short excerpt of her novel on the CompuServe Literary Forum, where author John E. Stith introduced her to literary agent Perry Knowlton. Knowlton represented her based on an unfinished first novel, tentatively titled Cross Stitch. Her first book deal was for a trilogy, the first novel plus two then-unwritten sequels.
And the rest, as they say, is history. The Outlander series currently has 8 books, as well as a spin-off series based on Lord John Grey, one of the characters in the story. Gabaldon’s stories have been published in 27 countries in 24 languages so far. Not bad for a story that started out as a practice novel.
What is the genre of the story? Isn’t it just a sappy romance?
OK, yes the book has some very swoon-worthy characters, and yeah, it might have some very steamy sex scenes, but it’s so much more than that!
Here’s just a bit of what Outlander is all about:
See, NOT just a sappy romance.
So if there are 8 books in the series AND a spin off series, how should I read it?
Diana has this all outlined on her website! Here’s what she says:
“The Outlander series includes three kinds of stories:
- The Big, Enormous Books that have no discernible genre (or all of them).
- The Shorter, Less Indescribable Novels that are more or less historical mysteries (though dealing also with battles, eels, and mildly deviant sexual practices).
- The Bulges—These being short(er) pieces that fit somewhere inside the story lines of the novels, much in the nature of squirming prey swallowed by a large snake. These deal frequently—but not exclusively—with secondary characters, are prequels or sequels, and/or fill some lacuna left in the original story lines.
Now. Most of the shorter novels (so far) fit within a large lacuna left in the middle of VOYAGER, in the years between 1757 and 1761. Some of the Bulges also fall in this period; others don’t.”
And, of course, after you read the stories, feel free to hop on over to Scotland for some Outlander-based tours.
Alright, maybe you’ve convinced me, but why is it so great?
Again, I could just say that it is and just read it! But maybe some of these snippets from other reviews will convince you:
smash from smash attack reads says:
“To me, the beauty of this story is the imperfection in Claire and Jamie’s relationship. No relationship is perfect, no matter how well the pair gets along. Jamie is just as stubborn as Claire, and they have some throw down fights. She stands up to him every inch of the way, and the in the end, she disobeys his wishes and fights for his life when he has just about given up. Claire is one strong, confident, amazing woman!
The book offers SO much for the reader: romance, history, adventure. fantasy, betrayal, loyalty…and a love that transcends time, people!
jenn of owl read it says:
“I think that it’s a book that everyone should read, even if you don’t end up liking it, because it’s either one of those books that you love or hate (or so it seems), it will at least make you think and give you something to talk and rant to others about! Or if you love it like me, you get a nice long series of long books!”
kim from caffeinated book reviewer says:
““Sassenach” is the sexiest term of endearment I have ever heard, “aye it is”. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon is one of the greatest books I have ever had the pleasure to listen to. The story some 800 plus pages long is a time traveling historical novel that left me breathless.”
jess from tangled up in reading says:
“Diana Gabaldon writes beautifully atmospheric historical fiction. Not only is her prose stunning, but I was completely able to picture everything. I mean, I was there. I’m a huge fan of historical fiction, and sometimes when you get into lengthy books like this, you inevitably run into dry spots. Not so here. I don’t recall every having to struggle through.”
sarah from sarah says read says:
“Even though this book is long (850 pages, actually), I enjoy every minute of it. There’s action, intrigue, love, history, men in kilts… it’s just amazing. My boyfriend is actually the one who talked me into reading this book, and it might just be the best thing he’s ever done for me. (He also went out and bought me each book in the series as I devoured them. What a sweet man.) I actually MISS these books when I’m not reading them. And they make me desparately want to go to Scotland. (I looked up plane tickets though – 1300 bucks one way. Bloody hell.)”
Have you read Outlander? How would you convince someone to read the story? Are there any other interesting tidbits on the history of the story that I might have missed?